Entries Tagged 'Elections' ↓

Has Minnehaha County Commissioners lost confidence in outgoing auditor Kyte?

To say the job Auditor Kyte performed last Tuesday was less than stellar is an understatement. It was a disaster. Besides the wrong ballots being handed out in several precincts and the calling out of NON-REPUBLICANS showing up to vote against Amendment C, there was also the issue of Kyte running an election where he appeared on the ballot (a possible violation of state law). Well he did lose. But many have been asking if he is qualified to run a general election (his term doesn’t end until the Spring of 2023) or if they need to bring in outside help. Apparently it didn’t take the MCC very long to come up with a solution, posting this job ad on Friday;

Mayor TenHanken’s Latest Interview

I guess I missed this interview from a couple of days ago;

In the past four years, his city department head leadership team has changed considerably. There are new police and fire chiefs, new faces leading public health, planning and innovation. He has a new finance director and city attorney.

“So I spent four years building that team, and now for the next four years, we’ve got the team together, and I think we can do a lot.”

He has really spent the past four years dealing with a revolving door. Many people he chose after being elected to his first term have left. He has had to appoint a new city attorney, a new planning director, a new health director and police chief. He has also had to appoint 2 different Fire Chiefs. He is on his 2nd IT and technology director. He has also lost a deputy chief of staff, a housing director and his chief cultural officer. I am unclear what he means by building a team?

Often times whether it is in the private sector or public sector many times directors and department heads leave an organization because of (lack of) leadership. Sure, retirements do occur, but with this much turnover in just 4 years you have to question the relationship he has with his city directors? This may explain why his administration is so busy fiddling with the legislative process instead of running the city (his duties under the charter).

“Everyone wants to know what are we doing about housing, and I can tell you it’s just so challenging right now, with land costs and with attitudes about infill development,” TenHaken said. “If we can move two or three houses or create small programs to give developers a little bit of cost savings, we’re just hitting singles. There’s no home runs to be found.”

That’s because the housing crisis will not be solved in Sioux Falls until we solve the wage problem. We also can’t be constantly cramming affordable housing into certain neighborhoods, it has to be spread throughout the community. I know it is NOT an easy thing to fix overnight, but what groundwork has been laid over the past 10-15 years or even past 4 years on this issue? I will continue to cross my fingers that the city will implement real programs to fix up our core, build density and create more housing, but I don’t have a lot of confidence in this current city government makeup that they have any long term solutions.

There also will be a project to complement the downtown parking ramp on the north side of 10th Street east of Phillips Avenue, TenHaken said.

“I’m excited about it,” he said. “We’re going to soon be announcing the timeline and process for interested parties to begin expressing interest in the site, so I think it will be good in the second term to get that underway.”

So the ink has barely dried on the check we sent to the defunk developer of the Bunker Ramp and we are already going to send out an RFP on what to do with the site? Which says to me, someone has already pitched the city an idea (we can make our guesses who this developer will be). Not sure what you could do with the site, but I have often suggested a multiple story studio apartment building.

Trying to solve the issue of child care is a bit like tackling housing, he said.

“There’s no silver bullet solution, but the discussions we’re having and the work and partnership we’re forming with the school district is something that’s never been done in the city before … kids and families is something we’re going to lay overtop of almost every decision we’re making.”

I often shake my head when community leaders across the country think they have some simple, unique solution to fixing the child care issues in their communities. Two things that could drastically change that situation in Sioux Falls would be higher wages and Federally funding for Pre-K education. Government is NOT always the solution, but in this situation non-profits, churches and private schools can’t solve this by themselves, there needs to be a government safety net for the kids that fall thru those cracks. So what is standing in our way? Partisanship, which brings us to his final thoughts;

“I think the next political cycle is going to be very ugly, so how do I as a mayor try to maintain a spirit of unity and a One Sioux Falls mindset when national news and all these forces tell us there are constant things we need to fight about, and that’s why (I focus) on the 95 percent of where we’re alike to keep moving forward.”

He is correct, politics have become ugly and getting worse. Why? Because Republicans like TenHaken have made local traditionally non-partisan politics into partisan. Everything has become about one-party rule, even on a supposed non-partisan branch of government like city council. I saw this rear its head during TenHaken’s first campaign, it got worse in ousting councilor Stehly and recently Brekke. It has become an all out death match to the end. And I’m not talking about a difference between Republican or Democratic philosophies, those are easy to break down. It is a devision between the elite, authoritarian Republicans and the traditional fiscal conservative Republicans and social conscious Democrats. The authoritarians like Noem and TenHaken are in charge and they will do anything in their power to squash a dissenting view on how to tackle an issue. Solutions come from bringing every view to the table. This is why they had to eliminate Theresa and Janet, they asked too many questions, and you never question the King.

I would like to think that things will be different in Sioux Falls in next 2-4 years, but with cruise control government, a lack of transparency, a rubber stamp council and very little planning or vision, I think we will still be talking about the same challenges in the Spring of 2026, just more exacerbated.


It is such an honor to be elected to this seat on the City Council. I always encourage my kids about being the change that we want to see in the world. There are things that happen in our world that we have no control over, but we can control ourselves and our response to those issues. 

Yeah, it’s called voting in local elections. I still find it incredibly ironic and hypocritical that the first vote Cole cast in a Sioux Falls city election was a vote for herself 🙂 and the media has yet to touch that with a ten foot pole. Her absence in participating in local elections tells us all we will need to know about what her performance will be on the city council. Thank goodness the Mayor already setup a team of fellow rubber stampers for her so she doesn’t have to fart around for 4 years setting up that groundwork.

Vote NO on Amendment C

I’m flattered

I had to laugh that newly elected councilor stole my cartoon idea in this article;

“My joke is: a doctor, a lawyer and a preacher walked into a bar …” Barranco said of himself and his fellow incoming council members.

He also said this;

He also sees the commanding re-election of TenHaken – and the election of all candidates he endorsed – as a sign that residents are happy with how things are going and that “the city’s on track.”

Yes David, a very small percentage that bothered to vote in North Harrisburg are just tickled Taupe.

Newly elected Councilor already has an official photographer

Good thing, because image is everything!

Also throughout the installations, when Paul would introduce them, he would say who their guests were (namely campaign donors). This has never been done before except for introducing kids and spouses. Not sure why Matt Paulson and Leslee Unruh being guests for a particular candidate needed to be announced?

UPDATE: Citizens for a Sustainable Sioux Falls file ballot question Committee

UPDATE: Here is a copy of the petition, and also a detailed story about it.

So the people fighting the Wholestone Packing Plant filed this last Wednesday (FULL PDF)

Notice the name of the committee is ‘Smart Growth Sioux Falls’, and below they listed their intentions ‘The ballot question committee supports measures to prohibit certain Slaughterhouses from being constructed, or being permitted to operate, within Sioux Falls city limits’

I guess it would be safe to assume they will attempt to circulate a petition to stop Wholestone. While they have made no pronouncements to the media or on their website about what their intentions are, I am guessing we will hear soon. They will probably have 6 months to gather a little over 6,000 signatures.

Without taking a stance until I know more about their intentions, I will warn them, the city’s legal counsel will either do everything in their power to kill your petitions or fall over themselves to support you to get this on the ballot.

This will be fun to watch from the outside for once.

I had a great convo today with a local businessman and Switzerland’s direct democracy form of government and how the Swiss people embrace voting on most laws that affect them. I have felt for a long time the only way you get anything done that truly affects our lives and government policy is thru direct democracy and the ballot box, and this is a prime example. Representative government is a flawed and broken system.

Were these PACs fined for missing the filing deadline?

As you can see, three PACs that donated to the candidates in the latest City of Sioux Falls city election did not file their reports until 4 days after the filing deadline of April 7, 2022.

Ironically, 2 of the reports were filed within minutes of each other. I had asked the question why these PACs were not held accountable? And while they were filed less than 24 hours before the polls opened on Tuesday, is this really accountability?

While hindsight can be 20/20 we have been digging around on not just the money flowing into the winners column but an interesting strategy of data collection on targeting likely voters, especially in North Harrisburg (SE District).

Let’s just say the city’s use of Facebook for videos and EventBrite to book public meetings should be be BANNED immediately. They are harvesting data on citizens and it is NOT being used to improve your lives. We found out on Tuesday it is being used to manipulate voters and elections.

Mayor TenHaken made a revealing statement before the election about having the privilege of being a sitting mayor and having access to information his competitors do not. Was he using some of this access to help his campaign? I don’t know, but I do know that several years earlier he was using some of the same techniques to help the Marion Mike Rounds campaign dig up a dissenter and also trying to hide a blogger turned Deputy SOS who was also accused of using taxpayer information to assist his personal campaign consulting business. Jackboots let him off saying he didn’t steal any money from the petty cash drawer.

Is it ethical or even legal for a campaign to use this data for their personal benefit? Yes, if it is done from the outside thru other data collection tactics. Will we ever know if that is the case?

I encourage everyone to stop following the mayor and city on Facebook and Twitter. I also encourage to NOT fill out any surveys or RSVP requests from the city that use a 3rd party company.

Mayor ‘Hottie Pants’ garners the Hot Mess Mom Vote

Well, some nicknames can’t last forever, and now with a new term, we may have to drop Poops and replace it with Mayor Hottie Pants (see below).

People continue to vote for image NOT substance.

This exchange on Argus 911 FB page says all you need to know about how the desperate housewives of Taupeville vote. Ironically, I told a friend the other night while watching the debates, Ms. Islam isn’t too hard on the eyes either, but I still voted for the hippie.

If you go to the thread (April 12) you will also see several blatant racist comments about Muslims. But the comparisons to Trump and how much Captain Hottie Pants has accomplished really had me laughing. I wonder what city some of these people have been living in the past 4 years? I wonder if they realize the SE District is just a district and not the entire city?

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader and MSM Media got what it wanted (Guest Post, Theresa Stehly)

The Sioux Falls Argus Leader got what it wanted: A City Council of Paul Tenhaken’s hand picked supporters.

Never mind that they never, ever have mentioned the $120,000+ that people like Alex Jensen are spending on Council campaigns now to win.

They wanted less debate and scrutiny from Council members. They got it!

Council members voting for projects that benefit their employers? The Argus doesn’t mind.

Councilor Janet Brekke brought an ordinance, supported by the board of ethics, to mandate ethics training for employees, Council members and ethics board members. It was voted down on second reading last night, without discussion. Does the Argus care? NO!

God knows what the Argus Leader’s motivation has been, personal relationships, concern for business advertising, or just plain lazy reporting. But their bias and lack of balanced reporting has worked to rip away the representation, transparency and accountability for the average citizen and their concerns. Since things will run so smoothly now for City Hall and Chamber / Developer interests, perhaps the Argus does not even need a City reporter?

We can trust that City Hall will take care of everything without public oversight. AMEN.

EDITOR’S NOTE: While I am just as much upset as Stehly, I saw the writing on the wall with how the local media was treating Poops and his Endorsed Candidates. Not one single source asked Sarah Cole why she has never voted in a city election (her first vote was for herself ironically). Or the ethics of a mayor and council endorsing the opponent of an incumbent. But the worst was the zero coverage of what Paul has actually accomplished over the past four years even when he admitted he hasn’t done anything by saying his first four years were for setting up the chess board. Also no mention in the debates why he said, “I didn’t sign up for this.”

I will tell you the real reason why Poops won by such a wide margin, people don’t like change, and they know from his first term, he won’t change a damn thing except more closed government, more handouts to rich friends and higher taxes and fees.

As you can see from Megan’s story that years of voter suppression is what lead up to this. The sad part is in the poorer neighborhoods;

Voters in Sioux Falls’ southeast district had the highest turnout (about 32 percent), and voters in the northeast district had the lowest turnout (about 20 percent).

Turnout data showed some correlation to income (note: correlation does not equal causation). The two precincts with the fewest voters casting a ballot were also in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty.

There are many factors. One is the lack of media coverage and lack of the city providing information (sample ballots). This has been going on for awhile. Like when the school district holds an election, they don’t put any polls in the Northern part of the city. Then we wonder why the poorer neighborhoods don’t vote?

“What we have to do is figure out as a society that it’s OK for everyone to vote,” Erpenbach said, “and then make it as easy as possible.”

Weird, because if you look at Megan’s chart, Michelle was serving on the council during this flatline and spearheaded firing a City Clerk who was trying to make city elections better who was later replaced by our current clerk who wasn’t even registered to vote when he got hired for the position.

And we sit around and wonder why voter turnout is so low? It’s not an accident, it’s by invention.

Sioux Falls City Election; Democracy Candidates got their butts kicked . . . kinda.

There was a couple of good things that happened yesterday. We got some much needed rain, AG Rumblestrips got impeached and the mayor’s salary increase failed (that one was easy to predict).

I will admit, the candidates that lost don’t have any excuses, the other side played a better game. The Dutch Mafia has a strong following and the troops were well organized. I only assisted one candidate with a logo design and verbal advice, I had very little to do with the other campaigns except for my endorsements. I only spoke with Pam Cole two times when I signed her petition and at a forum and I spoke with NO ONE from the Islam campaign. In fact, Taneeza personally called David Z and asked him to drop out of the race so he wouldn’t steal votes from her. This is the main reason I supported David. Taneeza was playing the same political games as TenHaken. But who can top his intimidation tactics by threatening candidates then pretending he is the victim. It was a scare tactic that worked. It doesn’t matter how low you go, as long as you win.

The mayoral race and At-Large B races were easy to predict. TenHaken was impossible to beat, nobody had a chance. Also, Rich Merkouris had a stellar campaign. But those were NOT the only factors. The Wine and Cheese Democrats were running the opponents campaigns, they use the same playbook over and over again expecting different results. Their topics are always the same, help poor people, gay rights, childcare, poor people housing, addiction, public transit, the homeless. You know, all the bummer topics that the good Rich White Christian positive folks in Sioux Falls do NOT want to hear or talk about in Taupeville, because those problems don’t exist in their neighborhood and they proved that last night.

I also think when it comes to the campaigns of Ingle, Reistroffer and Brekke, a ground game doesn’t work anymore (direct mail, knocking on doors, etc.) unless it is in combination with a strong digital marketing strategy. I also don’t think robocalls and texting is a good idea. I am not sure it angers a lot of people, because I think they are used to it, I think they just ignore it. You also have to take into account that you CANNOT be your own campaign manager. There was a lot of that going on. You need someone in your campaign that will be critical of the decisions you make. I can pretty much guarantee all the winners last night were NOT running their own campaigns.

If I had to guess the winning campaigns threw tons of money at digital ads targeting the SE District (Taupeville). But I think the main strategy of targeting Dutch Mafia Churches (a lot of campaigning was going on in the churches) worked brilliantly. There is a national movement going on that involves extreme right wing politics and targeting churches for campaigns. Unfortunately the money came from a handful of people who think of themselves as kingmakers using PACS to concentrate large amounts of donations and fail to file any of their campaign finance reports before the election. But even if they would have, would the media cover it? Doubtful. I was the only person who talked about Sarah Cole’s voting record. Not one single media source touched it. (It’s going to be fun watching her learning curve. I guarantee you will hear zero discussion from her the first year on the dais. I nicknamed her Sarah Selberg.) It also didn’t hurt that the city conveniently partners with churches for polling precincts. I have never agreed with this. All polling places should be in publicly funded buildings, like community centers and schools. There is NO reason taxpayers should be paying churches rent for polling places.

Media bias also played a role. It was shown over an over again that the media was in the bag with Poops, and of course anyone he endorsed. There were many behind the scene conversations with reporters about their media bias. And when you would point it out, they would cry like little babies. There was also an incredibly strong push for voter suppression. We had to beg the city clerk to put a sample ballot out before voter registration deadline and early voting started. The city did ZERO promotion of the election. This was probably NOT by accident. Voter suppression helps the ‘chosen candidates’.

After TenHaken won in 2018 I have been warning candidates about the power of the SE District voting bloc, and when the school bonds passed and Alex Jensen won, it further cemented my belief that Taupeville was a force to be reckon with. They proved this last night. They have a Maga Hat on their heads, a bible in their back pockets and a schedule filled with youth sports activities. I have told candidates over and over YOU NEED TO CAMPAIGN IN THE SE DISTRICT!


While the margins were good for the winners, this was hardly a mandate. Many people come on here and comment that most people in Sioux Falls don’t agree with the candidates that lost. I guess I really don’t know. I agree, not everything they support is mainstream. I joked last night with a Lincoln County Republican politician that I know my socialist ideas are not mainstream and that I could give two sh!ts about people who go to church, youth sports and childcare. The childcare issue could be easily fixed in Congress and Pierre by funding Pre-K and making it a National standard. Not one single candidate brought this up. I’m not sure there is a wide group of people that agree or disagree with the Democracy candidates, I just wonder if people really don’t care either way. My BFF tells me all the time (who is a Republican) that no one gives a sh!t about local government. I recently agreed with him. The voter turnout proved this.

When you look at the numbers around 7% of the total population picked the winners. You can look at the breakdown here. With only 24% of eligible voters participating. It is sad, but on the bright side it means the ones in charge don’t really have a mandate, just an election certificate.

Also factor in the bizarre undervote numbers (that prove once again the city suppressing the vote and information). Undervotes are people who submit a ballot but don’t check the box in every race. It is called an undervote because they left a certain race blank. There could be a number of factors. They could dislike all the candidates that are running, but more then likely they don’t know any of them, so they leave it blank. This is why education of the ballot by the media and city should be important.

The undervotes (non-votes)

Central, 826

At-Large A, 3,575

At-Large B, 4,467

One of the interesting things to watch will be how these 7 rubber stampers and mayor will run the city over the next 4 years. If crap hits the fan, they won’t be able to point at Brekke, Stehly or Starr, they will only have themselves to blame for their foolish mistakes. You will also see a completely closed government. We won’t know about many decisions made until it is over. Maybe in 2 years people will realize that the votes they placed yesterday were NOT such a good idea, but I am not holding my breath since the TenHaken administration has done virtually nothing the past 4 years except hand out money to his rich developer friends and getting rid of Stehly and public input. Crime has risen, the core has deteriorated more, homelessness and panhandling has increased, housing options are minimal and expensive, the job market is tight, property taxes and fees are going thru the roof, and the list goes on. The media of course didn’t bring any of this up.

Sioux Falls used to be cool. I have lived here for 30 years. About 7-10 years ago I noticed that live entertainment started to disappear. You used to be able to see at least 1-2 national or regional bands in Sioux Falls every week. Once we started to move away from this was because of the infiltration of the Lily white yuppies downtown and the construction of the Denty. Sioux Falls has transformed itself into a franchise fast food haven, family centric, rich retirees town that has no room for progressive ideas like a flourishing underground arts scene or numerous choices for live music in locally owned clubs. In some respects we have gone backwards.

As the Seattle grunge band, Mudhoney, once sang when that town was getting popular for it’s music scene, “Time for leaving is now.”